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Viva La Party

A sampling of tasty spots to hang your sombrero on Cinco de Mayo.

You can pick up ingredients found on the menu in the adjacent market that includes a butcher shop

Photograph by DNY59/istockphoto.com

Cinco de Mayo (that’s May 5 for us Americanos) is often confused with Mexican Independence Day. But here’s a setting-the-record-straight history lesson: The popular south-of-the-border-themed holiday actually denotes the celebration of an improbable victory by an outgunned Mexican militia over French forces during 1862’s Battle of Puebla. For our neighbors in Mexico, Cinco de Mayo is really more of a regional celebration than a national pastime.

Stateside it’s a chance to kick back with a margarita (or two) and sample some cuisine authentica. Besides toasting Cinco de Mayo’s hero, the legendary Gen. Igancio Zaragoza, this year there’s a multicultural reason to raise your glass: The holiday coincidentally marks the running of the 2012 Kentucky Derby. So if you feel compelled to blend festivities make that Derby hat a sombrero and nibble something spicy with your mint julep.

Here are some great places in Fairfield County to toss back some tequila (or bourbon):


Darien Social

This classic American bar wears two hats for Cinco de Mayo: It’s hosting a Mexican Patio Festival featuring a sampling of the 1942 Don Juan Tequila reserve, margaritas, Mexican menu specials and a happy hour featuring a performance by the WMDs from 1 to 4 p.m. Inside, Kentucky Derby races will be celebrated with Bulliet Bourbon, mint juleps and more.

Ole Mole

The founders of this small Fairfield County chain (the original outpost is in Stamford) have always been passionate about only serving authentic cuisine. So you won’t find nachos and chimichangas on the menu of this Post Road establishment. (Natives will tell you those munchies are really American chefs adaptations of Mexican cuisine.) Instead, try the enchiladas, the sopitas (delicious, lightly fried corn cakes topped with black bean and Mexican cheeses) and the chile rellenos (if there are any left.) 1020 Post Road


Boxcar Cantina

This Old Field Road institution and Best of the Gold Coast favorite has the distinction of being Connecticut’s first certified green restaurant. So toast the day with a little less guilt: Try the organic grilled chicken enchiladas, the Stuart Farm (all natural, grass fed) beef burritos and be decadent (it’s the holiday!) and sample the Mexican chocolate brownie topped with a dollop of Connecticut made ice cream.


Get the party started by noon in Byram with light bites and $5 Margaritas and tequila shots or settle in for the night after five at the party sponsored by Patron tequila. Expect music, giveaways and fake mustaches galore.

Fonda La Paloma

For more than 25 years this Cos Cob landmark, founded by Mexican chef Carlos Viveros, has been serving delicious, authentic dishes in a convivial atmosphere. Don’t leave this party without trying the famous enchiladas.


Bodega Taco Bar

This casually sophisticated newcomer to the Mexican cuisine scene celebrates its first anniversary this month. And what better way to celebrate than with a day-long Cinco de Mayo themed birthday bash that includes a guacamole slapping demonstration, pig roast and of course, lots of tasty tacos. Take our advice and don’t miss the buttery grilled avocado or the addictive mahi-mahi tacos. Naturally, the Margaritas will be flowing.

Senior Salsa

Technically, this busy Post Road take out/dine in destination could be classified as a fast food joint. But loyalists say the beauty of this modest eatery –home of the famous Chile Lime salad and tasty Baja Shrimp Tacos—is in its kid-friendly atmosphere and reasonably-priced, fresh and tasty eats. Leave the cold cervezas at home though: There’s no liquor license or BYOB. 580 Post Road

New Canaan

Tequila Mockingbird

As its name implies this Forest Street veteran takes pride in its extensive stock of quality tequilas, magnificent Margaritas and a menu culled from careful research of Mexican cookery. Celebrate with a steaming platter of the awesome fajitas.

South Norwalk

Red Lulu

The party stars at high noon at this Washington Street cucina and tequila bar with $5 shots, Margaritas and light bites until 5 p.m. when the regular menu kicks in. The celebration, sponsored by Don Juan Tequila, will feature giveaways, a live DJ and festively fake mustaches to sport with your sombrero.


Mary Ann’s

Launched in New York City’s Tribeca and Chelsea, Mary Ann’s Stamford outpost offers tasty homemade tortillas, salsas, fajitas and more. The emphasis is on great portions, great drinks and great prices. Mariachi bands make frequent appearances here so expect some festive music too.

Ole Mole

Tucked in a High Ridge Road strip mall the original Ole Mole has always kept it authentically simple: There’s no liquor license (the Darien version does pour beer, wine and Margaritas though) and delicious meals are served paper-plate casual. Celebrate Cinco de Mayo with a cup of steaming tortilla soup, a delicious burrito and some flan. Or order takeout trays for a great party at your casa. 1030 High Ridge Road


Viva Zapata

No Cinco de Mayo listing would be complete without a mention of this Westport institution which has serving up generous portions of Mexican eats and outrageous frozen drinks since 1969. The celebration here is bound to be a good one.

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